FryUp: Congrats to Silverstripe

Kiwi team scores a big one; cutting edge computational journalism; Wikipedia to the rescue; and a Ziff Davis downer

— Congrats to Silverstripe — A profession upgrade — NGNGNGNGNGNG! — So farewell then, Ziff Davis?

Congrats to Silverstripe Looks like Siggy and the Silverstripes have scored a big one. If you go to the website for the 2008 Democratic Convention (yes, those Dems), and do View Source, you'll see:

<title>The Official 2008 Democratic National Convention</title>

<meta name="generator" http-equiv="generator" content="SilverStripe 2.0 -" /> Not half bad guys... Mauricio Freitas: The 2008 Democratic National Convention gets a little help from New Zealand company A profession upgrade I'm not entirely sure what "computational journalism" is, but suspect it has something to do with journos sitting in front of computers rather than the computing of stories. It does sound very cool though. Bet you it'll make us dirty scummy hacks more truthy and trusted, because computers are totally binary and true or false like. Oh yes. Journalism 3G: A symposium on computation + Journalism John "Grumpy" Dvorak: Harris Poll: Journalists Not Trusted! Fewer Adults Trust the President to Tell the Truth Either (Isn't there a newer Harris poll somewhere?) NGNGNGNGNGNG! "A packet is a formatted block of data carried by a packet mode computer network. Computer communications links that do not support packets, such as traditional point-to-point telecommunications links, simply transmit data as a series of bytes, characters or bits alone. When data is formatted into packets, the bit rate of the communication medium can be better shared among users than if the network would have been circuit switched." Err, right. The above definition, which looks suspiciously similar to the one found on Wikipedia, of data packets comes from a Commerce Commission media release, announcing that our august regulator intends to "proactively initiate a study into Next Generation Networks." They are also called NGNs, which normal people may confuse with the sound made by constipated French poodles on the pavements of Remuera, and have been around for a while. Telecom NZ's been rolling its out over the past few years Nobody knows quite what NGNs are, but the general agreement seems to be that they're IP-based, and contain a lot of fibre. That's not for the French poodles of course, but for transmitting the abovementioned packets at light-speed. Being IP-based, they are more flexible in terms of services provision than traditional telco networks, and in all likelihood cheaper to build and run too. The Commission's move on NGNs is very cautious — Doc Patterson's asking the industry to supply the terms of reference for the study, for instance. This is probably because the Commission doesn't quite know what to do with NGNs, and there aren't many overseas examples that it can rely on either, as is possible when it comes to regulating traditional telco networks. We'll see what comes out of the ComCom's study, but I hope they'll get some better reference material than Wikipedia for it. Telco Commissioner launches Next G network study Wikipedia: Packet (Information Technology) Wikipedia: Next Generation Networking

So farewell then, Ziff Davis? This is a bit sad for yours truly, an ex ZD publications contributor. Loadsa debt, and plummeting sales means Ziff Davis has filed for Chapter 11 protection. Wonder if they'll come out of it, and in what shape? Technology writing in print seems a dead proposition. Billionaire Brand Joins the 2008 Bankruptcy Bonanza



Robert X. Cringely

Netaholics Anonymous

If God had wanted me to be an attorney I'd have been born with a dorsal fin and razor sharp teeth. So the subtleties of the law sometimes elude me. But there have been a couple of recent court decisions that raise big questions about anonymity and privacy on the internet, so I thought I'd open them up to all you out there in Cringeville. The first involves the latest twist in the WikiLeaks saga. Last week the judge in question (who apparently does read the papers and maybe even surfs the Net) reversed his own order to shut down the domain just to get rid of a few niggling bank documents. One reason: he really didn't have jurisdiction, or at least, he didn't think he had jurisdiction. Figuring out who WikiLeaks is or where it's located is like trying to send mail to a ghost. The site has no physical address and assumes no corporeal form. It's as close to perfectly anonymous as you can be. And that makes perfect sense. WikiLeaks serves as a kind of megaphone/firewall for whisteblowers — a way for people to anonymously post documents that would otherwise get them in trouble and/or dead. (As I've said elsewhere, WikiLeaks ain't saints. There's a sophomoric quality and a notable lack of judgement to some of what it posts — and they really need a copy editor who speaks English as a first language.) The question I have is, does their anonymity make them unaccountable? Should they really be able to publish anything they please, and to hell with libel, slander, defamation, or privacy laws? The second case: By a 4-3 vote, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that spammer Jeremy Jaynes was not protected by the First Amendment and thus entitled to spend the next 9 years in the pokey. Personally, I think the world would be a better place if every spammer was in the slammer. In fact, they should build a special prison where, instead of making licence plates, spammers would be forced to read and delete penis enlargement emails all day long. But the ruling wasn't just about spam, it was about whether the state law prohibiting spam prevented other citizens from sending bulk email anonymously (in this case, messages with faked headers). In her dissent, Justice Elizabeth Lacy wrote that the law was "Unconstitutionally overbroad on its face because it prohibits the anonymous transmission of all unsolicited bulk email including those containing political, religious or other speech protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution." In other words, if you ban anonymous bulk email for the bad guys, you're also banning it for the good guys. A Net where no one can ever be anonymous is opening the door even wider for Big Brother. It's what the whole flap about Google and IP addresses is really all about. Anonymous speech is obviously necessary for serious reasons. The Net would also be a far less interesting place if we didn't have, say, that Tom Cruise video where he babbles about Scientology, proving once again just how chock full of nuts he really is. If the identity of the person who originally posted that video was known, he or she would be shark bait by now. But anonymity without accountability is an invitation to abuse. It's an old debate, but a good one to have, especially right now.

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